Alibaba fires employee who accused boss and client of rape

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Chinese ecommerce giant Alibaba Group fired the employee who accused the boss and a client of rape in August of this year, the Chinese government-backed newspaper Dahe Daily reported.

In an interview published by the newspaper, the employee says that she received the notice of dismissal at the end of November, and published a copy of what she claims to be the notice of dismissal sent by the company.

The letter says that the employee reportedly spread false information about having been raped and about Alibaba’s position. At the time, the employee disclosed that the employer had not acted properly in relation to her case.

The company’s statement also says that the employee “caused great social concern that had a negative impact on the company”, which she denies.

“I made no mistake and I will certainly not accept this result. And, in the future, I will use legal means to protect my rights and interests,” said the official in the interview with the newspaper.

Alibaba did not respond to a request for an answer in the case. The attorney for the official involved in the prosecution also failed to respond to a request for comment.

China’s biggest ecommerce company, Alibaba was rocked by the sexual assault charge in August after the employee posted an 11-page report on the company’s intranet claiming she was raped by her boss and a client while on a business trip.

According to the woman, she was forced by her boss to accompany him on a business trip to meet one of his team’s clients in the city of Jinan, about 900 kilometers from Alibaba’s headquarters in Hangzhou.

On the night of July 27, according to the employee, the customer kissed her. After consuming alcohol, she woke up in a hotel room the next day without her clothes and without remembering what had happened. Images taken by the employee from hotel employees show that her boss entered the room four times during the night, she said.

The case generated a lot of commotion after the woman’s report went viral on Chinese social networks such as the Weibo website. She also reportedly posted a poster reporting the case in one of the company’s cafeterias and posted a video of her account on the company’s intranet.

According to the New York Times, Jack Ma’s company initially supported the employee and two managers resigned for not taking action soon after the complaint.

Alibaba released a statement in which it said it had “a zero tolerance policy against sexual misconduct” and acting to “ensure a safe working environment for all employees” is its top priority.

The company fired the employee accused of assault and ten other employees for having publicized the incident.

Chinese prosecutors dropped the case against the company employee in September, saying he had committed “enforced indecency,” which the prosecution said would not constitute a crime. Prosecutors, however, called for the client’s arrest earlier in the month. The case remains under investigation.

In China, issues of sexual harassment and assault were rarely raised in the public sphere until the #MeToo movement took off in 2018, when a university student in Beijing publicly accused her professor of sexual harassment.

The company’s recent change of stance on the indictment reflects the toxic work culture of the country’s tech industry and the obstacles Chinese women face in reporting sexual harassment, according to the New York Times.

(With Reuters and NYT)

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